The Department of Social Development briefed the Committee on its performance during the third and fourth quarters of the 2019/20 financial year, highlighting areas where it had achieved, or failed to meet, its targets. It had put in place internal control systems to manage performance information through a standard operating procedure first developed in 2013, which had undergone annual reviews as required, the latest one being in January 2020.
Much of the discussion was focused on the Department’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Members wanted to know what was being done to protect the elderly and vulnerable in the DSD’s care homes. How could the prohibition on community organisations being allowed to donate food be overcome? They called for soup kitchens to be registered urgently, as they would be playing a pivotal role during the current lockdown period.
Other issues raised by the Committee included the funding of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres, the current situation at youth cafes and youth care centres, the nature of psycho-sociological support offered by the Department, and what steps were taken to reunite families in cases where a family member did not wish to be reunited.
DSD: Performance reportingDSD: OCTOBER 2019 – MAR02
Dr Robert Macdonald, Head of Department (HOD), Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD), apologised for the MEC’s absence, as she was attending a Cabinet meeting.
He said the tracking of performance information enabled the Department to show how it was doing against its objectives and budget, and promoted accountability and transparency by enabling legislators, members of the public and interested parties to be informed of its progress. The provision of this information was mandated by various legal and policy requirements, such as:
- Sections 92 and 133 of the SA Constitution, which makes provision for both Members of the Cabinet and the Executive Council (MECs) of a province, both collectively and individually, to provide regular reports concerning matters under their control to Parliament and provincial legislatures. Similar arrangements were specified for municipalities in terms of the Municipal Structures Act (MSA)
- The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and the Public Service Act (PSA) also provided for enhanced control over public expenditure, and empowered public sector managers to use resources more efficiently
- The 2004 Presidency’s Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation (GWME) framework, which makes provision for the management of programme performance information. It was now called the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency (DPME)
Programme performance information was an essential component of the GWME system and was a term used to denote non-financial information about government services and activities. The Department had put in place internal control systems to manage performance information through a standard operating procedure (SOP), first developed in 2013, which had undergone annual reviews as required, the latest one being in January 2020. The SOP describes the processes for quarterly and annual reporting of performance information, and during 2014, the DPME had introduced an output/target achievement classification system for performance reporting that initially included three categories. These were:
- If performance was between 0 – 49.9%, the target was considered not to have been achieved;
- If performance was between 50 – 99.9%, the target was considered to have been partially achieved;
- Only where performance equalled or exceeded the target, was it considered to have been achieved.
Dr Macdonald reported that the first category had subsequently been dropped by the DPME, so currently there were only two categories -- where performance was below 100%, the target was considered not to have been achieved, and was considered achieved when the performance reached or exceeded the 100% level. As there were valid reasons for not achieving a target, these were recorded and used to improve service delivery and ultimately, target attainment.
For the financial year ending March 2020, the Department had collected performance information against 51 performance indicators. The social sector had not been customised in the 2019/20 financial year because there had been no set of nationally agreed upon performance indicators for this period.
Programme 1: Administration
The DPME had discontinued the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) as a compliance mechanism in January 2019. The Department of the Premier, however, had indicated that the MPAT standards still had to be reflected as Programme 1 performance indicators in the 2019/20 annual performance plan (APP), albeit without targets. The Department had achieved all six targeted training interventions for social work and social work-related occupations.
Programme 2: Social welfare services
The target for the number of older persons accessing residential facilities was 9 000, and the Department had achieved 8948, or 99%. The number of disaster cases (households) assessed and referred to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) for social relief of distress benefits had been 210 (target 308) in the third quarter, and 301 (target 272) in the fourth quarter
Programme 3: Children and families
The third quarter target for the number of family members reunited with their families was 175, and 138 had been achieved. In the fourth quarter, the target of 180 was exactly achieved. The third quarter target for the number of families participating in family preservation and support services was 5 655 (4 792 achieved), and the fourth quarter target was 5 265 (5 743 achieved).
Programme 4: Restorative services
The third quarter the target for the number of children in conflict with the law who were referred to diversion programmes was 587, and 464 was achieved. In the fourth quarter, the target was 531 and 408 was achieved. On the number of children who completed the diversion programmes was 372 (target 425) in the third quarter, and 337 (target 425) in the fourth quarter. The target for the number of children sentenced to own and outsourced Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCCs) was 15 in both quarters, and the Department had achieved eight in the third quarter, and 15 in the fourth.
Programme 5: Development and research
The Department had managed to achieve all its targets in both the third and fourth quarters, except for two indicators. These referred to the number of youths participating in skills development programmes, where it had achieved 83% of its target of 4 500, and 92% of the targeted 13 funded youth cafés, both in the third quarter.
Ms A Bans (ANC) asked if Dr Macdonald could provide a list of Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) or people who were accessing social development funding, because in areas she had visited there were still some NPOs who were yet to get funding from the Department. She was happy that under Programme 3, the budget had been spent more on ECD centres, but she wanted to know how they had been accommodated by the Department. She referred to the 12 youth centres which had been mentioned, and asked where these centres were. Could the HOD elaborate on the disasters which he mentioned in the report, and give details of where these disasters were in the province?
Dr Macdonald responded to the issue of the NPO lists, and said that if Ms Bans sent a written request to the Department, it would provide her with the list. However, he pointed out that the Department normally attached the list of these NPOs to its annual reports.
On the issue of accommodating the ECD centres, he was not 100% sure of what the Mrs. Bans was referring to, but there were many more ECD centres which the Department was funding, depending on the money they had. They also fund some of these ECDs through some NPOs, but they could not do anything once their funds are depleted.
Regarding the list of youth centres, the Department could also provide that list upon request, as they had given that list previously to the Committee.
Focusing on the question of the disaster, he said the DSD responded to any form of disaster, and these could come in the form of floods, fire, or evicted people who might not have food. They assist those involved, as they also had an agreement with SASSA, but the final say on how to make the pay-out was entirely SASSA's prerogative, based on the Department's report.
Ms W Philander (DA) asked if the Department had a plan to assist some old people who could not be accommodated in residential centres. She wanted to know what the DSD did to reunite families, and if they received any counselling. Was there a holistic process for this?
Dr. McDonald replied that they still do had spaces in their residential centres, but asked Mr Charles Jordan, Chief Director in the Department, to elaborate.
Mr Jordan said there were a few beds that were still open, and there were some emergency beds. The Department preferred that healthy old people stayed with their families and communities, and the DSD would continue to assist them from there. They would rather leave the centres available for those who were frail and in dire need of shelter. The DSD supported the old people at these homes through offering counselling, giving them food and supporting their activities and skills development. All this was supported by the Department, as they had subsidised these centres.
Regarding reunification, he said reunification was a complex process, and the Committee needed to understand that some homeless people wanted to be reunited, but others did not want to be reunited for a variety of reasons. In trying to reunite families, the Department offered psycho-social support, as they had 22 social workers who worked exclusively for these centres. The social workers open a file for every person at these centres, and from there they also go back and try to talk with families and see if they can be reunited. Hence the Department tries all it can to champion reunification and quite a lot of success had been achieved in that regard.
Mr R Mackenzie (DA) asked about the 20 interns the Department mentioned who had been placed in work. He wanted to know their whereabouts and about their current status, given the fact that they did have a one-year contract, and if their work had been impacted by the advent of Covid-19. Regarding the number of older people accessing care facilities, were they from the province’s area, or from outside and coming to access the DSD’s services? He referred to the information that the MEC had written to the national Minister on the regulations, but based on his experience it was highly unlikely that the Minister would relax the regulations, and asked if they would have to take legal action because people would ask what they had done as the Western Cape Government. He also asked about the status of the youth cafes, and whether those involved were being paid or not during the lockdown.
Dr Macdonald responded on the whereabouts of the 20 interns placed in work by the DSD and said the 2021 intake had been placed on hold because of Covid-19. However, the 20 in question had been placed in the Cape Winelands, the West Coast, Ladismith, Worcester, and some in Malmesbury.
Mr Jordan elaborated on the youth centres, where people from the communities formed their own clubs and ran them on their own. These youths were coming through the system via arrests or reports coming from children's courts, indicating behavioural challenges and expressing the need for them to be considered. Other cases came from the prisons, although very few had come through this channel. However, they got all those who went against the law, were into drugs, or sought trauma services.
Dr Macdonald said there were many children who needed their services but probably had not been referred to them by the channels available, so they had created a budget to assist and target them for the next five years.
He did not think taking legal action over the regulations would be required, as there have been discussions on whether to include ECD in the education portfolio. The government had to avoid litigation on this issue. They would keep pushing the matter with the Minister, but had started conditional registration with the ECD to put some urgency into the formal process.
The youth cafés were still operational and working remotely, and the DSD was still paying them. Some had also made some savings from the funds they were yet to use. There were also some who had since requested to be allowed to offer aftercare, and to continue with the no visitation policy. Some cafes had also indicated what they intended to do with their savings, and it was now up to the government to agree.
Mr Mackenzie asked a follow-up question on the issue of the services rendered at the old peoples’ centres, as he knew that at some centres in Mitchells Plain there were other services and activities, and he wanted to know whether or not they are applying to the DSD for support.
Dr Macdonald responded that the services came in the form of food and recreational activities, and also involved the Department in conducting skills training, and in supporting religious activities. These centres also act as referral centres, but the Department also encouraged them to speak out on any activities they wanted to engage in.
Ms Philander asked what the procedure was if a person wanted to go into an old people's home now that they were under lockdown. She also asked what psycho-social support entailed, and if it also included support in securing Identity documents for those who might need them. Was the Department is aware of any draft regulations which allowed cooked foods to be brought to centres during the lockdown?
Mr Jordan responded that the regulations were strict and tight at the moment due to Covid-19. No visits could be allowed, and no new people could be taken in except if they were in distress. However, if there was an old person in dire need, there would be a social worker nearby and they would be checked for Covid-19 first, and then kept isolated for 14 days. They would later be moved on after health checks. It was a rigorous process, and only after a social worker’s report could the person be fully integrated. During the engagement between the person and the social worker, the social worker could note that the person did not have an Identity Document (ID), or was not healthy, and the person will be assisted in getting an ID and receiving treatment.
Pyscho-social support was a methodology that could be acquired during one-on-one sessions, or in a group session with peers, and it also involved skills development.
On the draft regulations regarding cooked food, Dr. McDonald said the Department had received a directive from the Minister that only food parcels could be received, while other provisions must be registered. Those who sought to make food donations must first notify police within 48 hours, and get permits. These provisions were problematic, given the current situation, as they were difficult to implement and also put a lot of people off from making the donations due to the stringent conditions. They were also against the draft regulations, as some of them also discouraged collection points. The Ministry had received a revised draft yesterday which was still not finalised, as it still had some serious challenges. The Department would get more feedback at their meeting tomorrow.
Mr Mackenzie said people in old age centres were very prone to Covid-19, as many had underlying conditions. What programmes were there to make sure old people did not get exposed? For instance, in Mitchells Plein people were not following the protocol, as some people had been seen talking to the old people through the fence.
Dr Macdonald said it was very difficult to police people coming to the fence to talk to the old people, and it was very unfortunate that there were cases of Covid-19 at some of their old age centres. However, they had made sure the centres were in contact with the health department, to make sure they educated them on the regulations. They encouraged families to call if they wanted to speak to their relatives, and to avoid visits or talking through fences.
Ms Philander followed up on the issuing of permits, and asked if the Department could issue them to donors should the Minister institute that regulation.
Dr Macdonald responded that the DSD could not issue permits if the Minister instituted that regulation. The number of NPOs registered amounted to 6 000. There were also those that were not registered, and the Department would not want to have to deal with 10 000 applications while people were starving, and others being arrested just because they did not have a permit.
The Committee resolved to send a written request to the Department to provide a list of ECD facilities and youth cafes in rural areas they had assisted. The DSD should reconsider strengthening the capacity of soup kitchens, and get those not registered to register. The Department would provide the Committee with a copy of the draft regulations they received from the Ministry.
The meeting was adjourned.
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